Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice, nor does it contain every detail or requirement of the applicable laws: it is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be relied upon. If you have questions about these laws, please consult your legal counsel.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive issue that can have detrimental effects on employees’ well-being and productivity, as well as your overall work environment. To combat this problem, many states have implemented specific training requirements aimed at educating employers and employees on how to recognize, prevent, and address sexual harassment.

In the State of Illinois, these requirements are robust and designed to create safer work environments for all individuals. Below, we’ll explore the sexual harassment training requirements in Illinois, detailing who needs to undergo training, what the training entails, and how employers can ensure compliance.

Understanding Illinois’s legal framework

Illinois has taken proactive steps to address sexual harassment in the workplace by enacting a comprehensive set of laws and regulations. The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits sexual harassment in employment and applies to employers with one or more employees:

The Illinois Human Rights Act (IRHA) makes it a civil rights violation “[f]or any employer, employee, agent of any employer, employment agency or labor organization to engage in sexual harassment.”

— 775 ILCS 5/2-102(D).

Under the IHRA, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Illinois harassment training requirements: FAQs

Which employers need to provide sexual harassment training?

Every employer with employees one or more employees working in the State of Illinois is required to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training.

Who needs to receive sexual harassment training?

All employees in Illinois, regardless of their status (i.e. short-term, part-time, or intern) must receive annual sexual harassment prevention training.

While not required by law, it’s strongly advised that independent contractors also receive training — especially if they’re working on-site or otherwise interacting with staff.

What does the training content need to include?

At a minimum, the content covered in sexual harassment prevention training must include*:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA);
  • Examples of unlawful sexual harassment;
  • A summary of relevant federal and state statutory provisions, including remedies available to victims;
  • A summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment

*Restaurants and bars must provide employees with supplemental training that meets or exceeds the minimum training standards in Section 2-110 of the IHRA. Click here to learn more.

Need sexual harassment training in Illinois? Here’s the trailer for our state-specific course.

How often should employees receive training?

As of January 1, 2020, employers in Illinois are required to train every employee each calendar year.

When should new hires and managers get trained?

Employers must provide sexual harassment training to new employees within six months of hire and must train new supervisors within six months of taking on a managerial position.

A manager is anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees. A supervisor is also someone with the authority to effectively recommend these actions if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.

Does the training have to be accessible?

Illinois employers must provide training in a way that is accessible to all staff. If employees have disabilities or speak a language other than English, you must train them in a manner that is accessible and easily understood.

Am I required to keep documentation?

You bet. Employers are required to keep a record of all trainings. These records must also be made available to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) inspection upon request. They could be in the form of a certificate or a signed employee acknowledgement. It can be paper or electronic.

What are the additional requirements for restaurants and bars?

In addition to the mandatory sexual harassment training outlined above, restaurant and bars must provide supplemental training specifically aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the restaurant and bar industry. The training must include:

  • Specific conduct, activities, or videos related to the restaurant or bar industry;
  • An explanation of manager liability and responsibility under the law;
  • English and Spanish options

Finally, restaurants and bars must create, distribute, and enforce a written sexual harassment prevention policy in both English and Spanish. This policy (including instructions on how to report sexual harassment) must be given to employees within their first calendar week of employment at the restaurant or bar.

The final word

Sexual harassment training is a critical component of creating safe and respectful workplaces. By understanding the state’s training requirements and taking proactive measures to comply, Illinois employers can help prevent harassment, protect their employees, and promote a more positive organizational culture.

As employers, it’s our job to prioritize training, develop comprehensive policies, and foster a culture of respect to ensure that all individuals can work in environments free from harassment and discrimination. Together, we can work towards building a future where every employee feels safe, valued, and empowered.

Simplify compliance training with Ethena

As regulations change and harassment training requirements get trickier to follow, you can trust Ethena to have your back! Our Harassment Prevention Training is automatically updated as local, state, and federal regulations change, so your employees can focus on learning, and you can leave confusion in the past.

Ready to demystify sexual harassment training requirements in Illinois? Get in touch with us today!